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January 3, 1995

Recently it was my turn to spend an hour at the Perry middle school as a sort of teacher's aide in a program introduced last year at the suggestion of Nevilyn Throckmorton, one of the teachers at that school. The idea is to recruit a number of volunteer adults who can relieve teachers of some time-consuming but very necessary chores and thus free them up to do what they do best: teach our young people.

The program so far has been a godsend to middle school faculty members, as they will readily tell you. Some of the jobs being handled by the volunteers are such things as filing, highlighting portions of textbooks, helping individual students with their own particular problems in reading or other subjects, and things of that sort. There is virtually no end of such miscellaneous but essential tasks to be performed. Usually, all of these functions have to be handled by the teachers in addition to the classroom time required of them.

This is the second year for the program here, and it has worked quite well so far. But, as you might suspect, volunteers are in rather short supply, and that's the point of this column. They need a lot more helpers. Mrs. Throckmorton recruits organizations to furnish volunteers, and for the second consecutive year Jack Dolezal is assisting by coordinating the members of those groups who provide workers. He is assisted by Trish Bazzell and Mary Hager in that phase of the program. Mrs. Throckmorton has called on the Rotary and Lions clubs, both banks, and probably some other organizations, plus numerous individuals. One outstanding example of the latter is Elizabeth Willems, classified as a volunteer at large, who spends an hour or so several days a week helping with youngsters who have reading problems.

But more hands would certainly help out, and this is a program that you and I can handle with ease. I also can tell you after my brief stint that there is nothing at all difficult about the things asked of these volunteer aides. You won't be embarrassed by being asked to do something you can't do or don't want to do. It is, in fact, kind of fun. My task was performed in the teachers' lounge, right alongside the coffee pot and cold drink machine, and I was allowed to eavesdrop on teacher shop talk just as if I belonged there.

But Jack needs more of us to lend a hand. Maybe some clubs and other organizations have not yet been contacted, but I don't think you need to wait for a personal invitation. Take the initiative and call Jack, Mrs. Throckmorton or Beverly Coldiron in the middle school office and make it known that you'd like to be part of this program.

Satisfaction is practically guaranteed for anyone who serves in this capacity. Doesn't that sound like a good way to spend an hour? One thing for sure, you won't be tested or graded at the end of your stint. Why not give it a try?